What Does It Really Mean to Be a Christian? by Reagan Marsh

Reagan Marsh, MATS, MDiv (eq.)

What Does It Really Mean to Be a Christian? by Reagan Marsh

Though important, being a Christian entails much more than identifying yourself as a follower of Christ. In fact, being a Christian means living a transformed life that has been radically changed by Jesus.

So, if you’re a Christian then…


1. Your Identity Is in Christ Alone

Your race, gender, marital status, parental status, background, citizenship, heritage, family, opinions, convictions, experiences, strengths, sorrows, struggles, advantages, personality, or education are not the truest things about you.

They have shaped you, but Jesus alone defines you. You no longer live; Christ lives in you (Gal. 2:20). “In the fullest sense imaginable, Jesus is your identity now.”

The sovereign Creator has ordained redemption to function so comprehensively that if anyone is in Christ, he is an utterly new creation; old things are gone, and all is made new (2 Cor. 5:17).

You bear Christ’s name, possess Christ’s Spirit, are included in his covenant, were adopted into his family.

In the fullest sense imaginable, Jesus is your identity now.

2. Your Life Is in Christ Alone

It’s been well-said by several Puritan theologians that you contributed nothing to your salvation except the sin which made it necessary.

You were defined by your sin, your hatred of God; you were God’s enemy, and despised everything about him to the core of your being. “Jesus alone gave and sustains your life, both now and forever.”

Your every sinful choice demonstrated this (Rom. 8:5-8). You brought nothing to the transaction of redemption but rebellion toward God, a ruined life, and spiritual death (Eph. 2:1-3).

By grace, you’re now a member of his Body, made to be his bride, and marked by his blood (Eph. 2:8-9).

Jesus alone gave and sustains your life, both now and forever.

3. Your Righteousness Is in Christ Alone

Your good works, great intentions, strenuous efforts, self-improvement, self-denial, and self-righteousness – so valuable in man’s eyes – are less than worthless before the eyes of him to whom we will give an account (Heb. 4:13).

In fact, all you can do is worse than trash (Is. 64:6, Phil. 3:8).

Your standing before God is based solely upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:30, 2 Cor. 5:21), and nothing else – or it is not the righteousness God requires.

Jesus alone possesses, fulfills, and presents this righteousness to you.

4. Your Hope Is in Christ Alone

Your tribe, team, people, record, political party, cause célèbre, paycheck, pedigree, aspirations, position, power, privileges, or playtime offer no room for boasting and constitute no lasting hope. Jesus alone does.

The hope Jesus gives is no pipe dream, but sure (Rom. 5:5), sealed, and made certain by his Spirit (Gal. 4:6).

5. Your Wisdom Is in Christ Alone

“All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in him” (Col. 2:2-3).

Thus any narratives, sources, perspectives, voices, articles, philosophies, analytical tools, books, podcasts, playlists, articles, opinions, etc. which add to, detract from, minimize, supplement, substitute, or set aside what he has said in his Word are actually “earthly, unspiritual, demonic” (Jas. 3:13-18) pseudo-wisdom.

They are genuinely false teaching about him. “The world in its wisdom did not know him.”

Jesus is “made unto us wisdom from God…where is the scholar?” (1 Cor. 1:18-31)

6. Your Strength Is in Christ Alone

Jesus is no mere coping mechanism, or “higher power.”

Strength in Christ comes from Scripture’s assurance that God the Father has placed all things under his feet (Eph. 1:22, Heb. 2:8), that he rules in perfect wisdom and unchallenged might, that he is working all things by his perfect authority (Matt. 28:19) after the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11), for your good and his glory.

Christians rest in his power, sufficient to subdue all things unto himself (Phil. 3:21).

Revising this merely exposes varying degrees of replacing Jesus with self-reliance.

7. Your Security Is in Christ Alone

“No man can snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:28-30), Jesus promised.

Christian, you are held firmly forever: “underneath are everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27). “Your grasp of him is weak; his grip on you is unbreakable.”

Those for whom Jesus has died, whose lives he has purchased, will be kept safe from every threat to the soul, now and forever.

Your grasp of him is weak; his grip on you is unbreakable (Ps. 73:23-26).

Nothing can separate you from his love (Rom. 8:31-39). You could not be more secure.

8. Your Peace Is in Christ Alone

No riot, report, pandemic, communication, or other act under his wise providence can affect your eternal standing in the Lord who “is himself our peace” (Eph. 2:14).“Our peace is the unshakeable majesty of our King – not the shifting circumstances of a fallen world.”

While they may be unsettling, they are not undoing: peace with God is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).

Though we are promised troubles in this life, our peace is the unshakeable majesty of our King (Jn. 16:33) – not the shifting circumstances of a fallen world.

Who Jesus is and all he has secured for sinners in his life, death, and resurrection are the “peace which passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).

Gluing our gaze on all God is for us in him is how our hearts and minds are guarded and guided into rest.

9. Your Life Is Christ Alone

No relationship, pursuit, role, or pleasure may fill that slot. The concept of living for anything except Christ’s supremacy and worth being displayed to others and increasingly evident in every aspect of your life should be repulsive.

If it doesn’t serve Christ’s glory by fulfilling the vocation in life where Christ has providentially placed you, growing your submission to Christ’s moral law, or teaching you more of his character, then it ultimately proves itself a supplement to him.

A supplement to your marriage is adulterous (Ex. 20:14); how much more here!

Jesus alone defines, rules, and demands your life – because he himself is your life (Col. 3:1-4).


In our current cultural moment – as in every moment, throughout all of history – many causes and claims compete for our attention, allegiance, and affections. “Gluing our gaze on all God is for us in him is how our hearts and minds are guarded and guided into rest.”

May your life, Christian, be built on the firm foundation (Matt. 7:24-27, 1 Cor. 3:11) of “the truth as it is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21).

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